Little River Spring on the Suwannee River
Summary of Features
- How Pristine?--banks lined with rocks to prevent erosion,parkingarea, steps, and facilities nearby
- Swimming—fine, excellent snorkeling
- Crowds—swarms on warm weekends
- Facilities—very good
From Branford, drive three miles north on U.S. 129 and turn left ontoCountyRoad 248. A green "Little River Spring" marks the turn. Go about a miletowardthe river (west) and follow signs to the spring.
For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satelliteimagery, and topographic representations as well as weather conditionsat this spring, go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida SpringsDatabase" web site at thefollowing address: http://www.ThisWaytothe.Net/springs/floridasprings.htm#Florida
Little River Spring is set about 50 yards from the Suwannee River andformsa curved key-shaped pool and run surrounded by the 25-foot riverlevee. The level of the spring varies with that of the adjacent SuwanneeRiver,but in times of normal or low water is shallow—2-4 feet deep. Thespringrun narrows from about 75 feet wide over the pool to about 20 feet atthemouth. When the river is high, the spring and run are wider and deeper.
Water issues from two openings in a limestone crevice that isapproximately 30 feet long. The larger opening leads to a cavernentrance at a depthof about 15 feet. A cave system extends approximately ¼ mile fromthe entrance and is up to 100 feet deep. Except in times of highwateror when visitors stir the spring, the water is very clear with a deepblueover the vent. The spring has a strong boil. A tree trunk iswedgedin the limestone between the two vents. The bottom of the run islimestoneand white sand, and the banks surrounding the spring are sandy andlightlyvegetated. Trees line the tops of the levee above the spring. Thebankssurrounding the spring and its run are lined with rocks and boulders topreventerosion. Steps lead from a parking area to the spring.
- Little River Spring is a Suwannee County Park open during daylight hours. Renovations undertaken in 2002-2003 (the site was closed fornearlya year) now provide portable restrooms, construction of boardwalks,handicap accessibility, and an improved parking area. Before the $1.2million restoration effort (which also included sediment removal from the spring and its run), the spring was one of the most eroded in Florida.
- Little River is very popular with sunbathers, picnickers,swimmers,scuba divers, and boaters, and is rarely visitor-free during the day.Boats congregate at the mouth of the run—in the run in times of highwater—including floating vendors (the "Lazy L Burger Hut" in 1999) selling hamburgers,boiledpeanuts, and soft drinks.
- Coarse language is commonly heard at the spring, and alcohol-fueled fights sometimes occur.
- The tree trunk wedged in one part of the vent—either from whenthespring reversed at a time when the Suwannee River was high or fromvandals—serves as a perch for swimmers.
- Little River is a well-known and popular dive site.
- The spring was featured with a photograph in the March 1999issueof National Geographic (p. 45), as part of a story in the magazine on the springs of Florida.
Despite the crowds and erosion, Little River is one of the most physically alluring natural sights in Florida. When the water is not high or stirred by visitors, the smooth and curving flow of this spring and its run to theSuwannee is breathtakingly beautiful. Under the right conditions, the water in the run is virtually invisible. Because the limestone shelf in the run is just below the surface, visitors have the rare opportunity to stand and peer directly over the cavern entrance and barely get their knees wet.Breaks in the limestone near the vent create a pool that is perfect for wading,swimming, and snorkeling. Even in times of high water, the spring remains attractive. Its flow is strong enough that it remains relatively clear even when the river is up to 10 feet above the normal high watermark.
Try to visit on a weekday or in the winter, when the crowds will be small and the water clear.
- Suwannee Blue, Royal, Bathtub, Convict, Owens, Mearson, Ruth,Sulfur,Shingle, Branford, Cow, Running
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Suwannee River State Park
- Itchetucknee River State Park